Prosecutors are charging those who posted alleged photos of Jon Venables and Robert Thompson online—even if the photos are not actually of the child killers.
Venables, then aged 10, and classmate Thompson abducted and murdered two-year-old James Bulger in Liverpool in 1993. The two were jailed for life but released under new identities in 2001— though Venables’s parole was revoked in 2010 and he was jailed for two years for possessing and distributing indecent images of children.
A spokesman for the Attorney General of England and Wales said in a statement that there were “many different images circulating online” that were apparently of the murderers, a fact which may lead to innocent men being wrongly identified as Venables or Thompson and put in danger as a result.
Earlier this month, photos of Venables allegedly surfaced on Twitter, despite a court order banning the publication of any details which might reveal his or Thompson’s identities. The photos in question also appeared on Instagram and Facebook.
“The terms of the order mean that if a picture claims to be of Venables or Thompson, even if it is not actually them, there will be a breach of the order,” said the spokesman, who added that breaching the order may be a contempt of court offence carrying a fine or imprisonment.
Bulger’s mother, Denise Fergus, has long opposed the order on the grounds that innocent men could be wrongly identified as the killers.
A Twitter search reveals that users were sharing links to alleged photos of Venables as far back as May 2011.
Photo of Jon Venables via pressassociation/YouTube